2016 is said to be the year of Virtual Reality. With some previous attempts in the nineties we have hit a point in technology where it won't be long before we are all living in a virtual world, or at least using it to enhance our own world. With the gaming industry releasing their first attempts at incorporating VR into their systems and games it is an exciting time, but just like all new futuristic technologies, how will it intertwine with the learning industry?
Virtual reality is about becoming part of a three dimensional simulation which recreates not only images in front of you but also environment. It makes the 3D concept that is all around the participant seem like reality by using technologies that react to the persons movements. Clever right?
This is sure suited to the gaming culture, or for entertainment factors, but how would it be a productive move for the learning industry?
Well, the purpose of learning is to teach the learner how to do something, in corporate training it is usually related to the job at hand. Therefor scenarios, animations, quizzes and interactions etc. are used to help the learner relate to the teaching. To try and put them in the position of making the decisions without the risk of real life interaction that could lead to real life mistakes. So what's more perfect than virtual reality? It will create a virtual environment, with virtual situations that the student will be part of making the decisions for.
As well as the physical side of learning a new skill, there's also the huge benefit of collaboration. One part of traditional classroom based learning that eLearning have been on a quest to try and recreate is the interaction with peers. With leader boards and online chats, eLearning has been trying to reinvent online cooperation for some time now, however nothing compares to what virtual reality provides. In a virtual environment peers would be in the same place through technologies even if they are physically based on the other side of the world. This also opens up opportunities of learning new languages, sharing, spacial awareness, the list is endless.
Virtual reality in learning is going to remold the learning world as we know it. Experiments, challenges, working with people can all be faced and taught in a way in which there is no real life risks. Learn about history - you can walk around an ancient building, learn about science - you can do the chemistry practical that is too risky to do in the classroom, practicing customer service skills - without tarnishing the reputation of the business by upsetting real customers. These are just examples of how virtual reality could transform not just our learning experiences, but our whole lives.